Come to Church

Come to Church is a performance-based art piece that immerses the audience in overstimulation, ableism, abuse in different forms, and their mental health consequences. It also mixes confessions of sins Brennen is sorry for, so-called sins he is not sorry for, grief, internal rage, and neurodiversity education.

The Hour Before

The audience was given an hour to gather, starting at 9pm. Upon reaching the venue you are asked to follow quickly written signage that seems innocent at first. As you approach an elevator the doors open to a sign that says “Gaslighters…2nd Floor.” Doors open to the second floor where you are introduced to signage dripping blood on the floor from finger-painted arrows. The arrows lead you down a hallway where you are greeted by a door seemingly taped shut with duct tape sprawling in every direction. The center of the door has a sign that says “CHURCH” in bold letters, above it, a minimalist design of the chancel (altar and pulpit area). You enter a room flooded in red light, ears met with a low single-note bass drone, a manifesto taped bizarrely to a wall to your left. Next to the manifesto, another entrance with slowly pulsating red light emitting. Turning that corner you enter the sanctuary revealing itself and disappearing every three seconds. At 10pm the lights stop pulsating and the drone gets louder.

The Service

Brennen Cabrera (Dimitri Bellrock) covered in filth and wearing a black robe enters a church-like environment of found objects, flooded in red light, and rumbling sound. The audience present was neurodiverse, neurotypical, and ableist. Dimitri sits in a tire, pulls out a microphone, and reads a disorganized, overwhelming, and emotionally fluctuating sermon. The lights soon start to flicker and change colors along with his voice. This sermon confessed sins Brennen is sorry for along with so-called sins he is not sorry for. It recalled ableist situations as well as mental and physical abuse he has found himself in. He also brings up disgust with what he sees in the media, businesses, and the harm to people in his life (permitted by individuals.) Lastly, he mixes neurodiversity information, grief, and bouts of what looks to be a rage filled mentality.

Brennen ends the sermon with the lord’s prayer and unrobes. The noise gets louder and starts to shake the room. The lights start pulsating quickly from dark to light, warm white to cold white. He lifts up the tire and rolls it away and proceeds to walk down a chainlink aisle to undulled barbed wire and a rope. He picks up the barbed wire and wraps it around his eyes, puts the rope around his shoulders, and walks back down the aisle to canvas in front of him. The canvas he confronts is covered in ableist writing. He dips the rope in fake blood, whips his back, and returns the blow to the canvas leaving a print. He does this over and over. Lashes seem flimsy at first but pick up. After spending time with the rope, he pulls out an electric wire from behind the canvas and starts back to flagellating. He switches between the two multiple times. The barbed wire came loose during the routine which heightened the risk. The rope started getting caught and at one point pulled at the wire making it twist around Brennen’s eyes.

Eventually he ceased beating and transferring, stood up, and walked back down the aisle covered in blood and half of his head and neck in a spiral spiked metal cage.

Video Documentation (Extended Video documentation was un-archived for “A Summer and Autumn Tenebrae.” Thank you for viewing. Select video documentation is archived until future opportunities.

Special thanks to:

Documentation: Bill French (Photography) Karlos Dickerson and Hannah DeWitt (Phone Video)

Lighting and Sound Control: Mags Fitzmaurice